Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Building a strong midsection is worth so much more than looking good in a crop top. Yes, we all want to feel and look our best, but developing strong core muscles goes beyond aesthetics.
Whether you are stepping off a curb or doing an Olympic lift, a solid core will set you up for success with each step of the day. From improving balance and stability to aiding in fall prevention, the following core exercise series comes with many benefits.
I want to stress that it’s critical to focus on core stability before core strength, and that’s precisely what we do in the first week of my Core Construction course. Concentrating on stability first is like building a solid foundation for your skyrise!
With each move, I want you to take time to slow down and dial in. Let’s dive into my five favorite core exercises!
Plank Pushback With Knee Pull
This full-body movement feels so good from head to toe. When I’m tired, I move slow and roll through the spine. When I feel like strength training, I will add more intensity. While the focus is on the core, this exercise involves the entire body.
- Start in a high-plank position.
- Initiate the pushback by pushing your hips up while pushing through your heels of your hands.
- Pull your right knee to your right elbow as you return to the high-plank position.
- Repeat with alternating knee pulls.
Targets: Core, shoulders, chest, triceps, glutes, quads, lats, delts and rhomboids
This is my favorite exercise to do with my clients. I see too many people doing cardio moves without engaging their core. The pause and hold of the knee during this exercise forces you to use your core to balance and control the power. I like to mix it up with different hold times and intensity levels.
- Start in a light jog and repeat the rhythm “one, two, hold… one, two, hold.”
- Once you establish a rhythm, bring your knees higher and pump your arms with more intensity.
Targets: Cardio, core, shoulders, quads, calves, glutes, hamstrings, adductors, abductors
Ball Pike and Tuck
If your mind tends to wander as mine does, you’ll love this exercise, too! With the ball under your feet, it requires maximum concentration and muscle engagement to keep your balance. Plus, it’s just fun to have the added challenge! If you are new with the ball, learn to laugh at yourself a bit to avoid getting frustrated. It may take a few tries!
- Start in a balanced high-plank position with the ball under your lower shins/ankles.
- Drive your hips toward the ceiling as if being pulled by a puppet string.
- With your hips high, tuck your knees to your chest while exhaling and rounding your back to contract your abs.
- Once comfortable with the tuck, repeat with straight legs. Be sure to drive your hips over your wrists as if going into a handstand.
Targets: Core, shoulders, triceps, chest, glutes, quads, adductors
Three-Hop Warrior Hold
Like the 1-2 knee hold, this movement takes a core-centered cardio move and slows it down to a move that requires full control of the core while restricting momentum. Bonus: You’ll get your burst of cardio and torch a ton of calories.
- Start in a high-plank position.
- Explode off your toes and bring your right foot to your right hand in a deep lunge position. Repeat three times and hold.
- Flatten your back and bring your arms overhead while keeping your hips low in a deep lunge.
- Repeat from the start.
Targets: Cardio, core, quads, calves, glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors, adductors, abductors
I tend to gravitate toward movements that involve power and speed, yet this exercise was incredibly challenging for me. It earned my respect as I improved. It’s slow, pretty and targets a unique set of muscles that don’t get isolated very often. If you’re a Pilates lover, this will hit your favorites list, as well. If you’re more of a speed and power demon, it’ll leave you with a love-hate relationship!
- Lie on your left side as if you were going into a side plank.
- Roll your hips slightly back to rest the weight on your left glute. Keep both legs straight and flexed.
- Lift your right leg and grab your ankle (or calf).
- Find your balance in this position and lift your lower leg upward in an alligator chomping motion.
Targets: Core, adductors, glutes
I can’t wait to hear what exercises make your top five!
Spring is here, summer is near and results are on their way! Let’s face it, the midsection is a stubborn area for many women. With Kim Lyons’ Core Construction series, gain access to unbeatable core exercises and training advice from a master trainer. Learn how to drop bad habits and create a lifestyle that will bring forth a rock-hard midsection.
The 30-day program can be done in the comfort of your own home with minimal equipment and time, no matter what your fitness level, and it’s a great complement to other workouts. No more two-a-days at the gym. No strict dieting. Just results.
Now is the time, and today is the day to accomplish something you’ve wanted for years: a tight and strong core. Register for Core Construction today!